Omaha Water Lantern Festival – A Must-Visit Lighting Event


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In the heart of Omaha, Nebraska, the Omaha Water Lantern Festival stands as a testament to the enchanting power of lights and the profound sense of community it fosters. Join us in this illuminating journey.

Omaha water lantern main
Festival highlights

About the Omaha Water Lantern Festival

Inspired by the enchanting floating lanterns traditions of Asia, the Omaha Water Lantern Festival brings a magical touch to Nebraska. This radiant event is a tapestry of light, color, and emotion, celebrating community, love, peace, and hope with each lantern set afloat. Dreams and memories intertwine, creating a luminous spectacle where aspirations soar and loved ones are remembered.

The festival is not just about the mesmerizing water lanterns. Attendees can indulge in an array of activities, from designing their own lanterns to swaying to the rhythms of live music. Food trucks line the vicinity, offering a taste of local and international cuisines, ensuring that the experience caters to all senses.

For anyone seeking a memorable night under the stars, the Omaha Water Lantern Festival is an impeccable choice. It’s a place where moments of reflection and joy meet, suitable for all ages and backgrounds. Truly, it’s an unforgettable celebration where the spirit of unity shines as brightly as the lanterns on the water.

When is the Omaha Water Lantern Festival?

Mark your calendars for a luminous evening on June 29, 2024, when the Omaha Water Lantern Festival will illuminate the night. This special date promises a blend of warmth, light, and communal joy, setting the stage for an unforgettable experience. As summer’s embrace peaks, the festival offers a perfect outing.

The anticipation builds as June 29th approaches, offering a unique opportunity to participate in a celebration of light, love, and memories. It’s an ideal time to enjoy the outdoors, with the festival set against the long, balmy evenings of early summer. Don’t miss this night of radiant beauty and shared dreams in Omaha.

Omaha water lantern 1
An image inspired by the Omaha Water Lantern Festival in Nebraska

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The Omaha Water Lantern Festival finds its picturesque setting at Gene Leahy Mall, 1001 Douglas St, Omaha, Nebraska, United States. Nestled in the heart of downtown Omaha, this vibrant location promises an enchanting backdrop for the festival’s array of lights, offering both locals and visitors a spectacle of beauty and community. 

The Gene Leahy Mall, with its scenic waterways and lush landscapes, provides the perfect canvas for the light displays, transforming the urban space into a magical realm of reflection and connection.

The nearest airport to Gene Leahy Mall is Eppley Airfield, approximately 4 miles away, making the festival easily accessible for those flying in. Visitors have several options to reach the festival from the airport:

  • Taxi: A quick and convenient option, taking about 15 minutes.
  • Rideshare: Services like Uber and Lyft offer direct routes to Gene Leahy Mall.
  • Public Transportation: While more time-consuming, it’s a budget-friendly option.

For those traveling by train to Omaha, here are detailed guidelines from a few cities:

From Chicago:

–Take the Amtrak California Zephyr from Chicago Union Station to Omaha. The journey offers scenic views and comfortable amenities.

–Upon arrival in Omaha, opt for a taxi or rideshare to Gene Leahy Mall, a short distance from the station.

From Denver:

–Board the Amtrak California Zephyr in Denver for a direct trip to Omaha. This route crosses picturesque landscapes and provides a relaxing travel experience.

–From the Omaha station, Gene Leahy Mall is easily reachable via taxi, rideshare, or public transport.

From San Francisco:

–Begin with the Amtrak California Zephyr from Emeryville Station, offering a memorable ride to Omaha. Enjoy the changing landscapes, from the Sierra Nevada to the plains.

–Upon reaching Omaha, a short taxi or rideshare ride will take you to the heart of the festival at Gene Leahy Mall.

If you liked the Omaha Water Lantern Festival, you can also check out these other mesmerizing water lantern festivals:

Full Moon Lantern Festival

Kaga Yuzen Toro Nagashi

Festival Hours

The Omaha Water Lantern Festival welcomes attendees from 6:00 PM, setting the stage for an evening filled with light, music, and communal joy. From the moment the gates open, visitors can immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere, enjoying food trucks, vibrant music, and a variety of fun activities designed to delight and engage. The air buzzes with excitement, building anticipation for the night’s main attraction.

As the sky begins to darken around 8:30 PM, guests are invited to design their lanterns, a reflective and personal experience that adds depth to the awaiting spectacle. The climax of the evening starts at 9:00 PM, with the lantern launch creating a mesmerizing display of light and hopes floating on the water, lasting until the event draws to a close at 10:00 PM. This magical window offers a unique opportunity to connect, reflect, and celebrate amidst the captivating lights.

Omaha water lantern 2
An image inspired from the Omaha Water Lantern Festival

How Much Does It Cost to Attend the Omaha Water Lantern Festival

Attending the Omaha Water Lantern Festival offers a range of ticket options designed to accommodate everyone’s needs and budgets. For adults planning ahead, tickets are available at an early bird price of $35.99 until June 21st, offering an affordable entry into an evening of unforgettable experiences. If you miss the early bird window, the price rises to $45.99 until June 28th, and last-minute attendees can purchase tickets for $55.99 on the day of the event, June 29th.

For families, the festival ensures a welcoming atmosphere for all ages, with youth tickets priced at $13.70 for those aged 8-14, while kids 7 and under can enjoy the festival for free, though they do not receive a lantern kit. This pricing structure makes the festival an attractive option for families seeking a unique outdoor activity that promises to be both engaging and memorable. Additionally, the Date Night Special at $71.11 provides couples with a romantic and comprehensive festival experience, including two adult tickets with extra perks to enhance the evening.

Each adult ticket comes bundled with a variety of items to enrich the festival experience, including a wristband for entry, a floating lantern kit with an LED candle, and a commemorative drawstring bag. Also included are conversation and playing cards for entertainment while waiting for the lantern launch, a marker for personalizing lanterns, and the assurance of lantern retrieval and water cleanup post-event, highlighting the festival’s commitment to environmental sustainability. These inclusions not only offer value but also ensure participants have everything they need for a magical night under the Omaha sky.

Omaha water lantern 3
An image inspired by the captivating Omaha Water Lantern Festival

Weather and What to Wear

June in Omaha, Nebraska, presents a welcoming backdrop for the Omaha Water Lantern Festival, with the city enjoying some of its most pleasant weather conditions of the year. Temperatures during this month tend to hover between the mild lows of 60°F (about 15°C) at night and the warmer highs of up to 85°F (around 29°C) during the day. This range ensures that evenings are comfortably cool, perfect for outdoor events by the water, making it an ideal time for the festival’s celebration of light and community.

For those planning to attend the festival, dressing appropriately will enhance the experience, allowing you to focus on the beauty of the event rather than the chill of the night or the warmth of the day. Here are some recommended clothing items:

  • Light Layers: A breathable long-sleeve shirt with a light jacket or sweater can be ideal as temperatures drop in the evening.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Opt for shoes that you’ll be comfortable standing and walking in, as you’ll likely explore the festival grounds or stand by the water’s edge to watch the lanterns float away.
  • Accessories: Consider a hat or sunglasses for the earlier part of the event to protect against the sun. A light scarf can also be versatile, adding warmth if the evening turns cooler.
  • Rain Gear: Though June is typically mild, it’s wise to come prepared with a waterproof jacket or a compact umbrella, just in case there’s an unexpected sprinkle.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

After a memorable evening at the Omaha Water Lantern Festival, a comfortable and convenient hotel is key to a restful night. Here are some accommodations nearby, each with its unique blend of amenities, ensuring your stay is as enjoyable as the festival itself:

Staybridge Suites Omaha 80th And Dodge, an IHG Hotel (3-star hotel)

  • Location: 7825 Davenport St, Omaha, NE 68114, United States
  • Description: This hotel offers a cozy atmosphere with home-like suites, perfect for unwinding. It features free Wi-Fi to keep you connected, an indoor pool for relaxation, and complimentary breakfast to start your day right.

Hilton Omaha (4-star hotel, Eco-certified)

  • Location: 1001 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
  • Description: Elegant and committed to sustainability, this hotel provides luxurious accommodations with an indoor pool and hot tub for ultimate relaxation, all while being eco-certified.

Hampton Inn & Suites Omaha-Downtown (3-star hotel, Eco-certified)

  • Location: 1212 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
  • Description: Positioned in the vibrant downtown area, this modern hotel offers easy access to Omaha’s attractions with amenities like free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool for leisure, and complimentary breakfast for a great start to your day.

What to Eat – Restaurants Nearby

Exploring the culinary scene is a must when visiting the Omaha Water Lantern Festival, with a variety of dining options nearby to satisfy every palate. Here’s a closer look at some of the restaurants where you can enjoy a delightful meal:

Spaghetti Works (Italian restaurant)

  • Location: 502 S 11th St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
  • Description: A family-friendly chain known for its Italian classics, from pizza to pasta, complemented by a bar. It boasts all-you-can-eat options, outdoor seating, and serves vegetarian dishes.
  • Foods: Guests can indulge in dishes like red clam, chicken broccoli alfredo, and a variety of pizzas, among others.

Spezia Omaha (Italian restaurant)

  • Location: 3125 S 72nd St, Omaha, NE 68124, United States
  • Description: This sizable and modern restaurant offers a cozy patio, Italian dishes, wood-grilled entrees, and Angus steaks. Features include happy hour food, a fireplace, and private dining rooms.
  • Foods: Menu highlights include hunters ribeye, strawberry salad, and heirloom tomato risotto, among others.

Greek Islands Restaurant (Greek restaurant)

  • Location: 3821 Center St, Omaha, NE 68105, United States
  • Description: A veteran taverna that has been serving since 1983, with a whitewashed decor that complements its Mediterranean menu. It offers vegetarian options and a kids’ menu.
  • Foods: Patrons can enjoy a variety of pizzas, chicken santorini, and pastichio, among other dishes.

More Things to Do in the Area

Delve deeper into the heart of Omaha with a visit to these captivating attractions, perfect for enriching your festival experience with cultural, educational, and recreational activities.

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Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

  • Location: 3701 S 10th St, Omaha, NE 68107, United States
  • Description: Recognized globally for its leadership in conservation and research, this zoo and aquarium offers an unparalleled animal and natural world experience. It’s an engaging destination for visitors of all ages.
  • Activities: Explore the world’s largest indoor desert and nocturnal exhibits, an immense indoor rainforest, and various animal habitats.

The Durham Museum

  • Location: 801 S 10th St, Omaha, NE 68108, United States
  • Description: Set in Omaha’s beautiful art deco Union Station, The Durham Museum offers a fascinating look at the history of the United States’ western region, with immersive exhibits and unique educational programs.
  • Activities: Discover historical exhibits, including restored train cars, 1940s storefronts, and artifacts from the region’s past.

Omaha Children’s Museum

  • Location: 500 S 20th St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
  • Description: This award-winning museum provides interactive learning and exploration spaces designed specifically for young minds, making it a fantastic destination for families.
  • Activities: Engage in hands-on learning experiences across science, technology, and art, including a creative arts center and a splash garden.

An Illuminating Conclusion: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Experience at the Omaha Water Lantern Festival

The Omaha Water Lantern Festival is more than just an event; it’s a profound expression of hope, love, and unity, celebrated under the canopy of a starlit sky. With its blend of cultural festivities, engaging activities, and breathtaking light displays, it offers an unforgettable experience for all who attend. 

Omaha itself, rich in attractions and culinary delights, provides the perfect backdrop for this luminous celebration. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this magical night, where light and water meet in a dance of beauty and serenity.


Is there parking available at the festival?

Yes, there is parking available near the festival site.

Can I bring my own food and drinks to the festival?

Outside food and drinks are allowed, but food trucks and beverage stations are available on-site as well.

Are pets allowed at the festival?

Pets are not permitted, with the exception of service animals.

Is smoking allowed at the festival?

The festival is a smoke-free event to ensure a comfortable environment for all attendees.

Can I bring a camera or drone to take photos/videos?

Cameras are welcome, but drones are prohibited to ensure safety and privacy.

What should I do if I lose an item at the festival?

Visit the information booth for lost and found services during the festival.

Are there any age restrictions for the festival?

The festival is family-friendly and open to all ages.

What happens if it rains on the day of the festival?

The festival will proceed in light rain; however, severe weather may cause delays or rescheduling.


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